Posted by on March 17, 2014 - 10:37am

Melissa Simon, MD, and member of the Women’s Health Research Institute’s Leadership Council wrote a powerful opinion piece about the language and socio-economic barriers in health care. Dr. Simon cites a recent case involving 16-year-old Ethan Couch’s lenient sentence for his crime of killing four and injuring two in a drunk driving accident by claiming “affluenza.” What was argued in court was that Couch’s “doting, wealth parents infected their son with irresponsibility,” which is a flimsy case, a blatant misuse of medical terminology, and another example of absolving the wealthy for their infractions. Dr. Simon uses this case to testify that language has created injustices and disparities in all facets of life, particularly, in the world of health care.

People must effectively understand information about their health, and physicians must effectively communicate this information. The influx of patient navigators, Dr. Simon says, is a clear sign that effective health communication is needed. The heavy health care jargon alienates low-income patients and can lead to costly or harmful effects if proper care is misunderstood. The wealthy have improved access to health care via, in part, their understanding of this health care vocabulary. This further perpetuates class differences and the inequality gap expands in American health care.

Moving forward, Dr. Simon says, we must facilitate mutual respect between the rich and the poor. This can be done by (1) reevaluating the language used to describe these different classes; (2) having political leaders demonstrate ways to unite the rich and the poor through language; and (3) ensuring that all patients have access to non-jargon-laden health information.

Source: TPM Cafe

Posted by on September 17, 2013 - 9:04am

A group of more than 50 physicians and other healthcare professionals have signed an open letter calling on all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to stop targeting medical facilities and to permit medical care to continue without interference. In the letter, published online in the Lancet, the writers noted that 15,000 doctors have fled the country and 37% of the country's hospitals have been destroyed, and that many areas of the country are completely without any health care.

Source:  Medpage Today

Posted by on July 21, 2012 - 2:14pm

Several Affordable Care Act  provisions that have "remained under the public's radar" are women's health-related, according to a Kaiser Health Newslist of 10 little-known elements of the law. The following is from the Daily Women's Health Policy Report from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

One such provision reauthorizes funding through 2014 to states for sex education programs that teach students that abstinence is "the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems."

Another provision calls on the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct a study on the causes and effects of postpartum depression. The law also authorized $3 million in 2010 and more funds as needed in 2011 and 2012 to support services for women at risk of postpartum depression.

The health reform law also requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide women who are breastfeeding with a private location to pump and "reasonable break time" to do so.

Another section in the law requires CDC to carry out an educational campaign targeted at young women about "the occurrence of breast cancer and the general and specific risk factors in women who may be at high risk for breast cancer based on familial, racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds such as Ashkenazi Jewish populations" (Schultz/Torres, Kaiser Health News, 7/12).

Posted by on June 28, 2012 - 1:28pm

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the health care law (Affordable Care Act) will keep in place important benefits to women:

  • Women will no longer  be charged more than men for the same health coverage  by insurance companies because women use more health services (preexisting conditions??)
  • Preventive health services like mammograms, birth control, and well women visits will be covered without a co-pay or deductible.
  • Women will no longer be denied health coverage for having survived domestic violence or rape, or having had a Caesarean section.
  • Maternity care will be included in all health care plans.
  • Low income and underserved women will gain financial access to coverage, whether through the Medicaid program or help with insurance premiums.

While the opponents to ACA will turn this into a political battle, the Supreme Court has added credence to the need to create a health care system that benefits all people.  Hopefully, our country's leadership will spend more time on improving this Act rather than spending energy tearing it apart and pandering political rhetoric.